Academic success is always a team effort. It takes dedication and hard work on the part of the student, caring and thoughtful instruction on the part of the teacher, and intentional support from parents and other caregivers. Every day in the classroom, students and teachers are hard at work on their end of the equation, but parents are often less connected to the process. So, how can parents make sure that they’re effectively involved? These questions to ask your child’s teacher are a great place to start:
1. What are the most important concepts and skills my child needs to master this school year?
State standards indicate various skills at each grade level that must be mastered in order for students to be successful in the next grade level. Have a conversation with your child’s teacher to understand what foundational concepts they will be working on throughout the school year to ensure that you’re reinforcing the same skills at home as you assist your child.
2. What learning models (like blended learning, flipped-learning, project-based learning, or game-based learning) do you use in the classroom?
You’ve probably heard at least one of these education buzzwords, but do you really understand what these models entail? Chances are, your child’s educational experience looks very different than what you remember from when you were in school. By asking your child’s teacher about which approaches they use in the classroom, you can gain insight into how your child is learning during the school day, what kind of work you can expect to see them bringing home, and how to support them.
3. How do you personalize learning in your classroom to meet each child’s individual needs?
Education is increasingly moving away from the one-size-fits-all model. Improved understanding of the learning process, coupled with more and more adaptive technology, is leading to personalized learning experiences in the classroom for each student. Ask your child’s teacher about the tools they use to benchmark students, identify their unique strengths and weaknesses, and give them the individualized attention necessary for success.
4. What standards will my child’s learning be assessed against, and how will you measure their progress?
Every state has its own set of academic standards and system in place for measuring student progress against those standards. Some schools and districts even have their own standards that your student may be assessed on. Talk to your child’s teacher about the role of standards and assessment in their classroom, and be sure you’re aware of key testing dates.
5. How do you use technology in your classroom?
Technology is playing a more and more significant role in day-to-day life, and the classroom is no exception. Find out what software, online programs, and learning management systems will be utilized in your child’s classroom. Will they be issued a device by the school that they’re using daily, or are they expected to bring their own? What guidelines for responsible use of technology and digital citizenship will your child’s teacher enforce? These are all key things for you to know in order to support the effective use of technology at home.
6. What resources are available through the school or district that I can use at home to support my child’s learning?
Schools and educators work hard to provide resources for parents and students at home—so be sure to take advantage of them! Ask if there are online programs for practice that your child can access at home, family resource newsletters they should look out for, or parent portals to track progress that are available to you.
7. How will my child’s social and emotional development be supported?
School is about so much more than academics; it is also a great place for your child to build critical interpersonal skills. Talk to their instructor about how these social and emotional competencies will be fostered in the classroom and incorporated into curriculum. If you have specific concerns about your child, be sure to voice those as well.
8. What is the best way for me to communicate with you?
Effective partnership between educators and parents is all about ongoing dialogue. Build that relationship by asking your child’s teacher about which channels they prefer to communicate through (email, phone, online portal systems, etc.) and how frequently they expect to be in touch with you. Establish a regular pattern of communication to stay informed on your child’s progress and know how best to support them.
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